International Observers Decry Sham Belarus Elections

Oppressed opposition urged boycott of voting


International observers are strongly criticizing Sunday's parliamentary elections in Belarus as not being competitive from the start.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation Monday said "a free election depends on people being free to speak, organize and run for office." The observer mission said none of that happened during the Belarus campaign.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the vote fell short of international standards for a free and fair election. She said if Belarus wants improved relations with the United States, it must respect human rights, free political prisoners, and take steps to hold genuinely democratic elections.